In an ideal world, brands would offer customers every possible option to interact with them. But the cost and complexity of that can lead some executives to offer a higher standard of service on fewer channels.

While this is a reasonable assumption, our 2021 research into 16 Australian banks and providers suggests mastering omnichannel communication is essential to improve customer experience and all the business benefits this delivers. The key to that is not simply to adopt more channels but to ensure you have the scale and automation to deliver real-time responses and straight-through processing. In short, exceptional customer service can’t be one or the other — it takes both quantity and quality.

Technology is key

In our research, we saw that COVID-19 has accelerated digital adoption. Many customers were driven to use internet banking for the first time and the Big 4 banks have focused on keeping transactions on digital platforms.

Their investment in technology and multiple service channels is also significant. Strategically placed live chat and chatbots mean customers can get immediate help for pressing issues while taking pressure off call centres.

Answer customers when they ask

Responding to customers when they ask a question may mean added complexity at the business' end but can safeguard the customer experience. Writing for Forbes, customer experience consultant Dan Gingiss called this respecting a customer’s channel of choice. After all, if a customer chooses to engage on Facebook, they’re doing so on purpose — perhaps they’re most comfortable there, find it the easiest practically, or don’t expect to get the help they need on other channels.

It also keeps the contact centre free and shows customers you care about them.

When a call is unavoidable, offer choice

Sometimes the practicalities of resolving a customer enquiry meant a call to the centre was necessary. Even then, offering a choice of how and when the exchange occurs is key to improved customer experience scores. Do they want to call, be called back, or book a time, for example?

Start with the customer

To gain the undeniable business benefits of good customer experience, banks and other institutions need to start with the customer. From there, they should offer a variety of communication channels and make sure they have scale and automation to manage them well and answer customers on the platforms they use. Fundamentally, it’s about offering and respecting choice.

Chloe has been part of the professional services team within Datacom since 2012, with prior experience in financial services. She has over 10 years' experience in contact centres across frontline leadership and support services roles in government, financial services, and insurance.

Related industries
Financial services
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Customer experience